Buddhism related to Hinduism

Recycling Monuments: The Hinduism/Buddhism Switch at AngkorThe Changing Face of Religious Architecture at Angkor, Also Common Elsewhere


One of the many stone faces at Bayon

The idea of recycling is far more ancient than many would think. For millennia, people have reused everything; metal, clothing, and yes, even ancient monuments.Recycling Monuments: The Hinduism/Buddhism Switch at Angkor Current trends in archaeological thought revel in the idea of an archaeological landscape: one which has been built up over millennia, interacting with culture after culture, each of whom has left their mark on a site or collection of sites. Often this is known as a palimpsest. A term which comes from the analysis of medieval manuscripts and originally indicated that a given piece of vellum or paper was used, scraped clear, and then re-used; leaving traces of its original text and images beneath the newer version. The city of Rome is a perfect example of an archaeological palimpsest. The ‘eternal city’, it was purportedly founded in the 8th century BCE and has maintained a constant population since its inception. A population which has altered the city over the millennia, leaving behind the rack and ruin of the previous ages in and amongst the modern trappings: making strange bedfellows of skyscrapers, medieval churches and Roman tombs.

The motives behind the reuse of ancient monuments varies considerably. In some cases, it may simply have been a matter of recycling building materials: after all, why start constructing a whole new building if you can use a pre-existing base ~ especially if no one has been using it for several hundred years? In other palimpsest cases, the reuse of a site appears to be a matter of symbolic importance; where an ancient site retains political or ceremonial prestige among the contemporary community and therefore anything associated with it attracts vestiges of the perceived importance of the earlier site. Stonehenge and its surrounding area, for instance, are a rather sacred palimpsest which went through multiple incarnations from prehistoric through medieval and which in the present has taken on a new role as a ceremonial site.

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